The Elite League are finally holding their play-off jersey auction from the start of next week and it doesn’t sit right with me.
Somewhat later than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced that all the jerseys would be be up for grabs from Monday which is nothing unusual compared to previous years.
But the tone of it this year is so much different that the cynic in me sees it as a blatant attempt to get as money as they can out of it.
To an extent, with good reason. Let’s not forget the Elite League lost a significant amount of money from the cancellation of the play-off weekend in April and other associated costs so you can’t blame them for doing this.
👕 auction of the jerseys from this season's cancelled playoffs will start on Monday!
— Elite Ice Hockey League | #EIHL (@officialEIHL) July 3, 2020
However, I can’t help thinking a significant PR move such as announcing that a percentage of money taken from the sale to go to charity or even the NHS after such a difficult time could have gone a long way to sell them.
Starting the bidding on each jersey at £85 might be acceptable to some, but misses the tone in the case of those who were unfortunately furloughed or even made redundant in the last few months.
It’s worth reminding not everyone is obligated to buy them or at least, take part, but the thinking behind this has been minimal to say the least as they try to, rightfully, recoup their losses.
The jerseys are sold with the general knowledge that most of them will have been game worn, which for some reason, adds a premium to the price.
These are nothing more than a different design of a jersey which has never been or will never be worn in a game situation, which leaves some, including me scratching my head at where they came up with a high starting price.
I’ve taken part in auctions before and like many people, have spent more than I’ve needed to in buying a jersey so I’ll probably sit this one out.
However, I feel an opportunity has been missed in really trying to appeal to any conflicted over whether they’ll take part or not and the carrot of a charitable contribution, especially for any organisation who stepped up during the pandemic.
The PR aspect of it alone would be worth a lot to the Elite League and after the great success of the Pride Weekend, this feels a little bit like a step back.
I’m not unsympathetic to the league and the losses they’ve had to absorb over how the season ended, but we’re living in different times and adaptation to the new world is the key.
Surely any PR kudos in the bank would be worth more in the long term than what jerseys will bring in in the next few weeks.
I’m not faulting the reasoning behind the sale of these jerseys, but to me, there was more to be gained from doing this than just flogging shirts.
Just think how favourable that could have been to potential sponsors as well.